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The Bishop's Man by Linden MacIntyre


I enjoyed this memoir-ish novel of a priest looking back on his career. It wasn't the usual parish priest experience however. Father Duncan MacTavish spent some time in Honduras, and as the Bishop's investigator, was sent in to deal with priests who had gotten in trouble. His job was to minimize trouble and appease the victim.

 

The Bishop hated the word victim, and was all for hushing up events. Eventually, these situations collide with his memories after he is assigned to the parish he grew up in, and he begins to question his own faith, and the repercussions left in a community after the problem priest was dealt with.

The story is told in several strands, and the timeline isn't completely linear, a reflection of how the present is coloured by past experiences. The first of the book is filled with foreshadowing and hints of things to come, which made me want to keep reading to find out what had happened, and then as events kept happening, I was turning faster and faster as Duncan's crisis comes to a head.

I liked the portrayal of the priest as a real person, with struggles and demons, colliding with the expectations of his community. The hierarchy of the church, or maybe it was just his Bishop, looked more interested in power and protecting their position than in admitting what had happened. The topic of abuse within the church was very timely, and I thought it was a fair portrayal of how things were dealt, or not dealt, with.

 

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